Examining Whether or not the Boston Massacre was a True Massacre

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The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines massacre as “the act or an instance of killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty” or “a cruel or wanton murder” (m-w.com). Essentially a massacre results in either the death of many people or death by cruel means. The Boston Massacre occurred on March 5, 1770, in Boston, Massachusetts and involved American colonists and British troops. The colonists, upset by recent laws enacted by the British, taunted a smaller group of British soldiers by throwing snowballs at them (Boston Massacre Historical Society). In response, the soldiers fired upon the unarmed colonists leaving five people dead and six wounded (Phelan, 131). Even though the event in Boston on March 5, 1770, in which blood was shed, and called the Boston Massacre, the actions which took place on that day did not constitute a massacre. Since only five people were killed and six wounded and there was no evidence of cruelty, the name Boston Massacre was likely a propaganda ploy by Samuel Adams to rally the colonists against the British instead of a true massacre. After the French and Indian War ended, England had massive debt and little revenue, so Parliament passed laws taxing the American colonists to aid in paying for the British army and navy that helped protect the colonies. Parliament passed a series of laws, including the Sugar Act and Stamp Act, which taxed goods purchased by the colonists. Colonial merchants, who did not feel they should be taxed without representation in Parliament, signed non-importation agreements promising not to buy or import British goods. There was a lot of violence committed on the customs officials who were enforcing the... ... middle of paper ... ...t day, not purposeful wanton murders. Using the term massacre to describe what happened to the colonists was a successful propaganda ploy by Samuel Adams to rally the colonists against the British, eventually resulting in American independence. Works Cited Boston Massacre Historical Society. Boston Massacre Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts, 2008. Web. 12 Nov. 2009. Lukes, Bonnie L. The Boston Massacre. California: Lucent Books, 1998. Print. "Massacre." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Merriam-Webster Online. 18 Nov 2009. Phelan, Mary Kay. The Story of the Boston Massacre. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976. Print. Smith, Robert. The Infamous Boston Massacre. United States: Crowell-Collier Press, 1969. Print. Zobel, Hiller B. The Boston Massacre. New York: Norton and Company, 1970. Print.

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